Adrenal Fatigue: Battle of the Stresses
By Dr. Kendra Styron
For most, November is the beginning of a stressful few months. Families gather together to celebrate thankfulness and feast on a number of delicious meals. While there is a lot of joy in these momentous occasions, the stress lingers in the preparation and "behind the scenes" work. After all, there is much to be done! Cleaning, cooking, decorating, and shopping are among the necessary activities. It's easy for these stressful loads to pile on, and begin to represent itself as fatigue, overly emotional, and loss of motivation. What part of the body do you think plays the biggest role in stress and maintenance of said stress? Yes, the adrenal glands. Our adrenal glands are located right on top of our kidneys, and they release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone which means it is released when we find ourselves in overly stressful situations. The problem comes when we get too much cortisol in our systems and it fatigues us down while creating a constant feeling of anxiety. None of these sound like pleasant circumstances to be encountered with.
This month, the focus is on adrenal health. Because our adrenals are responsible for the production of these hormones (namely cortisol), we need to keep it in tip-top shape so that our bodies are creating adequate amounts of the correct hormones at all times. The problem comes when we are encountered with all this stress, the adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of cortisol, and they exhaust themselves out. This is called "adrenal fatigue" (which doesn't sound good). This is when your adrenal glands are so exhausted that they can't produce correct levels of hormone, and then we start to embody those feelings of fatigue and unmotivation.
If there is any time that keeping our energy, happiness, and motivation up to par is important, it's during the holiday season. Here's what you can do: go to bed earlier! Studies show that the majority of people get a "surge" of cortisol after 11pm which, as you would expect, disrupts your ability to get to sleep. Changing your diet into an anti-inflammatory, gluten-free, and lean protein diet will put your body into a "relaxed" state. Increase intake of brightly colored vegetables to give your body a wider gamut of vitamins and nutrients instead of than carbohydrates and dairy which destroy gut linings. These nutrients should include Vitamin D, selenium, magnesium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and curcumin! As you can see, there are plenty of supplements and food choices that can help put your body into a state of ease versus a state of "dis-ease". It's about making choices that add to your health, rather than subtract from it. During these holidays, take time for yourself to get into relaxation mode, giving your body a chance to slow down.